Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kid Friendly Recipe #3: Swedish Meatballs

I didn't realize how much my kids would like meatballs until I took them to IKEA one day. My little guy, who was less than one at the time, ate more than I did. My mom made Swedish Meatballs all the time when I was growing up and we loved them. Everyone I know that has made these says their kids loved them, too.

{My notes appear in blue italics.}

Swedish Meatballs
from The Joy of Cooking

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. onions, finely minced

3/4 lb. ground pork
3/4 lb. ground beef
2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup water (I sometimes use milk instead)
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. each: nutmeg, allspice, ground pepper

4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups beef stock

Melt butter in a small, heavy-bottomed pan and cook the onions until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the bread crumbs and water. Let stand 2 minutes.

To the bread and water, add the remaining ingredients and the reserved onions.
(Don't be tempted to leave out the nutmeg and allspice--the meatballs are so much better with.)

Beat on low speed until smooth.

Note: Now, why do you need to beat the meat with a mixer? This does sound strange, am I right?

Well, what this does is break down the meat further to create the most delectable texture that practically melts in your mouth. They are light, not dense like most meatballs can be. And together with the spices, they have an flavor reminiscent of sausage. There are many recipes out there, but this one is the best I've found.

Turn the mixer to high and beat until the mixture becomes light in color and fluffy, about 10 minutes.Use two spoons dipped in water to shape the meat into 1" balls. (I use a small ice cream scoop.)

Note: If you want prettier meatballs, use the two spoons. I am usually in a hurry to get dinner on the table, so an ice cream scoop and misshapen meatballs suits me just fine.

Heat the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. (I do this in a non-stick skillet.)

Cook the meatballs in batches of 15 -20, making sure to brown them evenly on all sides. (I also divide the butter in half and use 2 Tbsp. per batch of cooked meatballs instead of all 4 tbsp at once.)

Remove the browned meatballs and drain them briefly on a plate lined with paper towels. (I don't put them on paper towels, usually there isn't that much grease. Also, I don't cook the meatballs all the way at this point in the recipe.)

After all the meatballs have been cooked, add the flour to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Slowly add the beef stock. Cook while whisking until the gravy is thick and smooth.

Note: If I don't have homemade or canned beef stock on hand, I use powdered boullion and water.

**To add extra flavor, I add a little bit of either Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet. This also helps make the gravy a little darker. Now, I'm not sure if they'll let me into cooking school after admitting that I use this stuff all the time in my gravy. But, really, I think it imparts a good flavor when you find that your dish is lacking some.**

Strain the gravy if desired. Pour the gravy over the meatballs and serve hot. (I add the partially cooked meatballs back to the gravy and let them simmer for another 10 minutes or so.)

Serving suggestion--

Mashed or boiled potatoes
Cranberry sauce or Lignonberry jam (I buy mine at IKEA)

Click here for a tutorial on making Swedish Meatballs that I posted over at Cafe Johnsonia.

Your family might also enjoy these recipes:

Meatloaf (plain) or Meatloaf with Gorgonzola in the middle

{Stay tuned tomorrow for meals that freeze well.}

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